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National Briefing / TEXAS

Details in crash that killed 17

August 10, 2008|From Times Wire Services

Witnesses who called 911 after the crash of a charter bus that killed at least 17 people described a chaotic scene, telling emergency workers of bloody passengers crushed beneath the smoking wreckage, according to calls released by police.

The unlicensed bus carrying 55 members of a Vietnamese American group from Houston to Carthage, Mo., for a Catholic festival smashed into a guardrail and skidded off a highway early Friday near the Texas-Oklahoma state line. Twelve people died at the scene and five died at hospitals.

Most of the passengers were from the Vietnamese Martyrs Church and two other mostly Vietnamese congregations in Houston, heading to an annual festival honoring the Virgin Mary.

The Marian Days pilgrimage, which started in the late 1970s, attracts thousands of Catholics of Vietnamese descent and includes a large outdoor Mass each day, entertainment and camping at night.

Authorities said the vehicle's right front tire, which had been retreaded, blew out and the bus to skidded for 130 feet before striking the guardrail.

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